Expanding your music: pop edition


For generations, music has served to unite the world through the comfort, inspiration and community it brings. At Naperville North High School, music has the potential to change the attitudes of students and staff for the better. It’s important to diversify the conversation of music and introduce new genres and styles to all students.

Pop is one of the most diverse genres in the music industry. With such variety, it holds immense potential for different sounds, techniques and themes within songs and albums. In a genre that is becoming a platform for up-and-coming artists to get their “big break” and for current artists to make a comeback, you can always rely on it to broaden your musical horizons. In each monthly installment, each of us will give an album from a certain genre in an attempt to help expand your knowledge of music. Hopefully this will introduce you to new albums from genres you love or new genres you never thought you’d enjoy.

“Melodrama” – Lorde (Bella) 

“Melodrama” is the sophomore album by popular artist Lorde. The record was released in 2017 and was named “Best Pop Album of the Year” by sites like NME and USA Today. The first few tracks of “Melodrama” carry similar themes of exploring suburbia and teenage emotions as her first album “Pure Heroine.”

Though the album is only 12 songs, it’s jam-packed with songs fit for any emotion. If you’re looking for a good late-night drive song, “Supercut” and “Hard Feelings/Loveless” are great options. They give you the best “freedom” feeling. Songs like “Liability” and “Sober II (Melodrama)” convey feelings of loneliness or relationship struggles. The vocals in both of these songs give the sense of being alone and having yourself as the only constant in the end.

This album holds a special place in my heart. It got me through the pandemic and my introduction to the world of high school. Lorde will always be an artist I cherish. From listening to her in the backseat of my mom’s mini-van to playing her music late at night with my friends, she has taught me how to love myself and feel the most appreciation for those around me.

If you enjoy albums like, “Happier than Ever,” “Dawn FM” or “1989,” I highly recommend “Melodrama.”

“Electra Heart” – Marina and the Diamonds  (Sarah) 

10 years ago, Marina and the Diamonds released her second album titled “Electra Heart.” The album charted at number one in the UK and introduced Marina as the “next big thing” in the music scene. The album had strong success in UK, but it peaked at number 31 on the Billboard Top 200 and never reached U.S. audiences strongly; I’m here to argue it should have. 

The album consists of 14 songs, each following different female storylines (housewife, icon, etc). Marina creates strong characters in each song, giving the album an innate sense of storytelling. She effectively places you in her emotional state, making you feel the same struggles, pride or successes as the characters described in the song. 

Despite what some critics may say, this album has a special place in my heart as it helped shape me as a woman. When I listen to her songs, I feel empowered. The lyrics have helped me become more confident and comfortable in my own skin. She displays pride in being a woman and has defied the stereotypes that women typically face in the modern social climate. It helped me become comfortable with breaking gender norms while still embracing my own definition of femininity. 

Overall, I think Marina and the Diamonds is one of the most underrated artists of the pop music genre. Still, I constantly find myself blaring my favorite songs from “Electra Heart” like  “Primadonna,” “Lies” and “The State Of Dreaming” whenever I get the chance.

If you enjoy albums from Lady Gaga and Melanie Martinez, you’ll definitely enjoy “Electra Heart”. 

“Ivory” – Omar Apollo (Maxie)

In 2022, Omar Apollo released his fourth album “Ivory” which offers an alternative take on Apollo’s established name in the R&B/Pop world. With popular featured artists such as Daniel Caesar and Kali Uchis, “Ivory” opens up Apollo to becoming a bigger name in the music industry. The hit single “Evergreen” gained traction from TikTok and reached No. 51 on the Billboard Hot 100. Apollo’s blend of R&B and Latin-infused trap constructs a story with a simplistic but gloomy perspective on heartbreak, setting him apart in the pop genre. 

Apollo displays emotional vulnerability throughout the entire album. The first few tracks encapsulate the anger felt at the end of a relationship. “Talk” and “No Good Reason” blends fast-paced pop beats with an enraged vocal tone, closely resembling an argument in a relationship. Songs like “Killing Me” and “Waiting on You” highlight the inevitable doubt when letting go of a person you love. Apollo concludes with messages of acceptance and moving on. “Evergreen” perfectly encapsulates the value of self-worth through an emotional ballad-type song, especially during the bridge. 

As a listener since his debut album, “Stereo,” is his best work by far. As a musician, he has grown to adapt to a new sound whilst keeping that bedroom-pop feel. I believe that he is starting to find a “niche” style that fits him the best. His previous album “Apolonio” sounds similar to the pop, ballad and acoustic style he has continued in “Ivory” in that the majority of the songs featured in this album have a familiar feel when listening to other popular artists as well. He incorporates intense emotion into his songs and prompts anyone to let their heart pour out while listening.

Overall, I highly recommend giving Omar Apollo’s “Ivory” album a listen. He incorporates similar sounds to popular R&B artists like Frank Ocean, SZA, Steve Lacy and Giveon. With the recent rapid growth of popularity from the media, especially TikTok, look out for this rising pop musician. 

Here is a link to our top 3 songs from each of these albums and one for our favorite pop songs.